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San Diego County restaurant owners prepare to offer outdoor dining

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 02:10:07-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- While indoor dining at restaurants across San Diego County will be banned for at least three weeks starting Tuesday, outdoor dining can continue.

Outdoor dining will be permitted until 10 p.m. and take out, delivery and drive-thru are still allowed.

San Diego landed on California’s watchlist as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, prompting the latest restrictions.

Museums, movie theaters, cardrooms, and family entertainment centers must also restrict indoor activities.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus hopes to make the situation a little easier to manage for Poway restaurant owners.

RELATED: San Diego to close some businesses as COVID-19 cases spike

“With the state and the county restricting indoor dining for three weeks, I wanted to make sure to provide a lifeline,” he said. “We could buy some picnic tables, put them in parking lots and adjacent areas as long as they need them, and then we can repurpose them in the parks.”

His proposal will head to Poway city council for approval on Tuesday night.

“I suspect that the council is going to approve this unanimously,” he said.

Vaus said the tables would be paid for through the CARES Act, and business owners would not have to pay a fee to use them.

“Absolutely free,” he said. “We’re trying to make life easier. We have removed any restrictions; they don’t have to get a permit or anything.”

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also plans to sign an emergency executive order to provide relief for restaurant owners.

“The City is finalizing a new ordinance for Council approval that will cut fees and streamline permits to make it easier for businesses to operate outdoors,” said Mayor Faulconer in a statement to ABC 10News.

RELATED: San Diego County added to California's 'monitoring list,' certain businesses told to shut down

“Given that the state’s new shutdown order has an immediate impact on local businesses, on Tuesday, I’ll be signing an emergency Executive Order that will waive regulatory requirements and help restaurants expand their service outdoors, increasing physical distance between employees and customers.”

Meanwhile, business owners across the county are doing what they can to stay afloat.

“We’ve been thinking what we could do, and we are ready to open for outdoor dining and give it our best shot,” said Suzan Meleka, owner of Charlie’s Family Restaurant in Escondido.

Meleka said she would be using her outdoor patio area and potentially adding more tables and shading in the parking lot.

“Currently there’s four, and we are going to add more, and they will be six feet apart for sure,” she said.

While outdoor seating hasn’t been the most ideal for some restaurants, it has proven to be successful in many beach communities.

“At our venues, I think it’s been really good outdoors,” said Steve Thomas, General Manager at Belmont Park.

Cannonball Sushi and Beach House Bar & Grill already operate outside, but changes will be made at Draft South Mission to expand outdoor seating in hopes of keeping the restaurant entirely in business.

“We just moved some more tables around, expanded the outdoor seating, and we’re going to pivot to make sure that we can still have Draft fully opened with the outdoor section,” he said.